The story of a community
Interview conducted with Maria Rita Epik, February 2011 | Interview conducted with Livio Angelisanti, March 2011
1. What was the first piece(s) you learned to sing? Did you learn to play any musical instruments?
The first tune in my adolescence was “La donna é mobile” from Rigoletto, in addition the instruments I played at the time were the mandolin, drums and piano sufficient just for me.
2. Is your family musical?
Yes, my maternal grandmother was a mezzo-soprano, her sister a pianist, my two paternal uncles were each a tenor and a baritone respectively and my father likes his father would play the violin a bit.
3. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Of the tenors Luciano Pavarotti because he is a real “Belcanto” which in Italian equates to singing with the ease of talking. Of the conductors Arturo Toscanini as he would direct exactly as the composers would want.
4. Can you tell us about your solo debut in 1992?
My first stage debut was a nerve racking test, however all my soloist friends from Opera were there and to further give me courage our maestro Ramiz Kocavı (baritone) sang some arias. I sang 2 arias (Ch’ella mi creda- Puccini ve Amor ti vieta – Giordano) and 2 napolitans (Dicitencello vuie ve Core’ngrato) for which I received a rapturous applause. They obviously liked my singing though my technique still wasn’t perfect.
5. What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?
In general the preparations before a concert give me much excitement, and just before giving a performance as I step onto the stage in that quiet and as I open my mouth to sing there is the question in me “I wonder how my voice will come out”, adds to the beauty and excitement of the moment.
6. How was it like to be trained under your first tutor, Ramiz Kovacı?
He was instrumental in showing me the light in singing. I learnt all the techniques from him, an amazing person and an incredible teacher to boot. Unfortunately he died around 3 years ago aged 63. 3 days before he died while we were training together for Andrea Chénier’s (Umberto Giordano’s opera) “Come un bel di’ di maggio” and I was having difficulty to sing the si bemol at the end of the piece and he with kindness he cried to me in Italian (he was an Albanian who couldn’t speak Turkish, graduate of Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome) Basta! Perché ai paura Devi fare cosi - “Enough why are you afraid, you do it like this”, and thus taught me! Imagine a 63 year old teacher teaching his baritone student with such passion! When I hear or sing this aria of Andrea Chénier’s opera, I still go to pieces.
7. As a person of Italian ancestry, yet living in Turkey, is it more meaningful to sing to works by Gaetano Donizetti who was the brother of the Court musician in the Ottoman Empire Giuseppe Donizetti?
I do sing Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore and Lucia Di Lammermoor operas but I never considered this interesting angle.
8. Tell me of your concert in Bosnia, was this part of a charitable endeavour to this troubled land?
It could be considered in that light. I gave a solo concert in the Christmas of 2007 and in my radio interview I stated music was a universal language and so I emphasized that this route could be one of the best ways to contribute to peace.
9. How often and for how long do you practice?
Each day I practice techniques and repertoires for 2-3 hours and I listen to music almost constantly.
10. Do you or would you like to teach music?
Sometimes I am called to assess the voice of new or prospective students at the conservatory, and I have in the past given private singing lessons.
11. Izmir is now your city, now you have made a permanent move from Istanbul. What does this city mean to you? Do you think the promotion of arts in this city can be improved?
I came to Izmir when I was 23 and have been here for the past 30 years. This is the city I really opened my eyes to life, settled to a life and matured. It is a city that generates a range of arts, but of course there is always a case of more could be done.
12. Do you compose? What inspires you?
No. I spend my energy to be a good tenor.
13. You recently received a medal of merit from the President of Italy, how did this feel like?
There are certain events in one’s life that leads a deep impression, such as a graduation ceremony, marriage, to become a parent, and this was a similar significant moment in my life that gave me a lot of satisfaction.
14. Can you tell us of any future projects in the pipeline?
I would like to continue offer my voice and musical knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
15. Do you think music can change people’s perceptions, alter prejudices. Do you think your singing as somebody so Italian in name, yet Turkish in residence can be an inspiration and hope for people of both nations, a small cultural bridge even?
I fully agree with this sentiment and as music is a universal language and so can be of great benefit. I see myself as a person 2 cultures, and indeed because of my mother’s French background, tri-cultural. I consider myself fortunate in this respect as I don’t have to strain myself to understand people of different cultures.
Livio Angelisanti - click for further images
Born in Istanbul in 1958, Livio Angelisanti graduated with a social sciences diploma from the Istanbul Italian Lycee. He later graduated with a doctorate from the politics faculty of the University of Trieste, Italy. His work life started as the Turkey representative of the Riello Company, later in the sales department of the Alfa Romeo Turkey distributor. Between 1979 and 1981 he worked in the foreign exchange and trade department of the Bank of Rome, Istanbul head office.
In 1981 Livio was successful in the exams held by the Izmir Italian Consulate and started work there, and still does till today. He has held a number of positions at the Consulate including twice as the vice-Consul and since 2003 has continued his appointment as the head of culture and language promotion.
In 1995 Livio was shortlisted as one of the candidates in the field of persons who had show exceptional ability in the improvement of Italian civil services.
In 1990 Livio started practicing for stage under the tutelage of voice tutors of Izmir State Opera and Ballet, together with teachers from the Izmir Dokuz Eylül Conservatory. From his stage debut in 1992 his performances have usually involved a charitable event. Livio is married with one child.
Livio showed an interest and aptitute to music from an early age, and under encouragement from friends in the State Opera and Ballet, started voice training with Ramiz Kovacı in 1990. His training between the years of 1994-97 continued later with the head of the Opera section Prof. Sevda Aydan of the Dokuz Eylül State Conservatory. In addition has worked closely with his professors, Andrea Cristofolini (Arena di Verona), Eddi De Nadai (Venice Conservatory), Paolo Ballarin (Rovigo Conservatory) while continuing his training under Prof. Sebahat Tekebaş.
His repertoire to date includes a wide range of operas including, La figlia del Reggimento (G. Donizetti), Rigoletto (G. Verdi), La Bohéme (G. Puccini), Un ballo in Maschera (G. Verdi), Tosca (G. Puccini), Madame Butterfly (G. Puccini), Turandot (G. Puccini) amongst others.
Livio continues to give concerts and recitals, mostly in aid for charitable causes, in Turkey, Italy and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
For his services to state and the arts he was awarded in 2010 by the Italian President the medal of merit, the Italian Solidarity Star, giving him the title of Chevalier.